The cardinal was convicted of embezzlement in a landmark case before the Vatican court

Open Editor’s Digest for free

The cardinal, who oversaw the management of Vatican finances from 2011 to 2018, was found guilty of multiple counts of embezzlement and fraud in a landmark corruption case.

The Vatican’s criminal court sentenced Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu, one of the most powerful figures in the Holy See, to five years and six months in prison, in what Italian media called the Catholic Church’s “trial of the century.” .

The charges resulted from a Vatican police investigation into allegations that church funds were misused in an ill-fated real estate investment in London.

The Holy See had bought a minority stake in an office building in Knightsbridge from a fund set up by London-based Italian financier Raffaele Mincioni, and plans to turn the building into a luxury residential complex. However, the local council did not grant planning permission for the conversion when the Vatican bought the project.

After spending more than €350 million to acquire the property between 2014 and 2018, the Holy See incurred losses of £100 million when it sold the building to Bain Capital for £186 million last year.

During the trial – which began in July 2021 and held 86 sessions with 69 witnesses – Becciu’s lawyers argued that the cardinal was “completely unaware of the potential problems” related to the real estate investment or that it “might have been illegal.”

“No one ever reported problems and risks with the investment,” his defense team wrote in a memorandum filed with the court last month.

See also  Wordle 380 Jul 4 Daily Tips: Can't solve Wordle today? THREE CLUES TO HELP FIND AN ANSWER | Games | entertainment

However, Mincioni said in court that the Vatican was well aware of the risks and lost money due to its irrational decisions.

Mincioni, also charged in the case, was convicted of embezzlement and money laundering and sentenced to five years and six months in prison, although his lawyers have already said they plan to appeal.

Others involved in a complex series of real estate dealings were also convicted, including Gianluigi Torzi, whose help the Vatican later sought to take full control of the building.

Torzi was convicted of extortion, fraud and money laundering and sentenced to six years in prison.

Enrico Craso, a former Credit Suisse banker who set up an independent consulting firm to provide financial advice to the Holy See, was convicted of embezzlement, money laundering and corruption and sentenced to seven years in prison.

Two members of the Holy See’s Financial Oversight Commission were found guilty of dereliction of duty and sentenced to small fines.

In total, seven people were sentenced to prison in this case and ordered to pay about 200 million euros in damages to the Holy See.

Becciu was also convicted of another charge of embezzlement for sending €125,000 to a charitable organization led by his brother that was ostensibly set up to help marginalized groups including addicts, ex-convicts and the unemployed.

Becciu was also found guilty of fraud in relation to €575,000 given to a security expert, who was supposed to use the money to free a kidnapped nun in Mali, but instead spent it on holidays and luxury shopping. Security consultant Cecilia Marogna was also convicted of fraud and sentenced to three years and nine months in prison.

See also  Storm Fiona rips through Canada's east coast, destroying homes and roads

A lawyer for Becciu, the first cardinal ever to stand trial before the Vatican’s criminal court, said he would appeal the ruling.

“We will continue to shout loudly that the cardinal is innocent,” said Maria Concetta Marzo, the cardinal’s lawyer.

However, the Holy See’s official Vatican News Agency said after the ruling that the outcome of the trial – in which some defendants were acquitted, or cleared of some charges – showed that the proceedings were conducted with “full respect for the rights of the accused.” .

“The judges… “It was thought out completely independently on the basis of documentary evidence and hearing witnesses, and not on preconceived theories,” wrote Andrea Tornelli, editor of Vatican News.

The high-profile condemnations come amid signs that Pope Francis may be increasingly uncomfortable with the implications of his campaign to bring greater professionalism and accountability to the management of church finances.

In a recent meeting with Vatican auditors, he called for “compassionate discretion” as they try to root out bad actors and corruption.

“The temptation of corruption is so dangerous that we must be extremely vigilant,” the Pope told listeners. But he said scandals “serve more to fill newspaper pages than to correct behavior.”

Pope Francis, who has pledged to clean up scandal-tainted church finances and bring greater accountability, did not comment on the cardinal’s conviction before his audience on Sunday, which also marked his 87th birthday.

Video: Can the Vatican fix its finances?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *